Mekuria Argaw Denboba, Tamrat Kassa:
Impact of Resettlement and Refugees on the Natural Vegetation: The Case of Abobo and Fugnido Sites in Gambela, Ethiopia


1Addis Abab Unviersity, Environmental Science, Ethiopia
2Gambella Technique and Vocational Education College, Natural Resouce, Ethiopia

The direct environmental impact of resettlers and/or refugees in their destination areas is deforestation, which is common phenomenon exacerbating land degradation in Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to examine the impacts of resettlements and refugees on the natural vegetation resource in resettlement and refugee sites in western Ethiopia. Remote sensing and GIS has been used to quantify and analyse the land use land cover change (LULC) as well as the dynamics using Landsat images of MSS 1973, TM 1987 and ETM+ 2002. A survey of the vegetation has been conducted to assess the impacts on the structure, composition and diversity of the vegetation. The result of the LULC analysis showed that the natural vegetation cover, particularly the forest, has been dwindling at a rate of 3 792ha per year in the past three decades. Besides the dynamics shows that much of the forest land has been converted to spares woodland and the woodlands have been changed to shrub lands and grasslands. The major drivers are uncontrolled cutting, expansion of settlements and agriculture. The vegetation analysis shows that a total of 20 woody species in 10 families are found in the study area. However, as compared to the intact sites outside of the resettlement and refugee areas, the vegetation in and around the resettlement areas are poor in diversity, structure and species composition. The diversity index (H') of resettlement and refugee areas in Abobo and Fugnido sites is 1.95 and 1.82 as compared to H' of the intact areas, i.e. 2.21 and 2.55, respectively. The regeneration of the major species in the resettlement and refugee areas is significantly affected (p < 0.05) and many of the species are poorly represented. The study generally shows the natural vegetation in the resettlement and refugee areas are under immense pressure of degradation and policy interventions are necessary to prevent and control further degradation.

Keywords: LULC dynamics, refugees, resettlement, vegetation structure


Contact Address: Mekuria Argaw Denboba, Addis Abab Unviersity, Environmental ScienceAddis Ababa, Ethiopia, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, October 2010